While many parents are covering dependent insurance of their adult children until the age of 26, many of these parents are unaware that they have no access to that adult child’s medical records and/or no one has been appointed agent under power of attorney for healthcare for the adult child.
Imagine: Your daughter is in college, a thousand miles away. You pray that she is safe in her new environment, but if she is hurt you can find yourself in a nightmare world. You get a call from a hospital: “She’s here, in stable condition.”
You ask, “What happened? What’s happening?”
The worker at the other end of the phone may feel legally restricted in what information she can give you without conflicting with HIPAA regulations, so you receive no clear response and are denied basic information. She believes that she is honoring your daughter’s federal right to privacy under HIPAA and minimizing her potential liability; but her “take it up with our legal department” response leaves you in a lurch.
HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) authorizations and Powers of Attorney for Health Care (POAHC) are examples of estate-planning tools that are valuable to people of all ages and means. Every competent person age 18 and over should have them. HIPAA authorizations allow access to your adult child’s health information to whomever your adult child chooses.
POAHCs provide for the appointment of an agent who can make the personal and medical decisions on your behalf of your adult child, should they become incapacitated. It is a type of “advance directive” that helps to avoid a guardianship over their person, keeping your family out of court, and provides a forum for your adult child to articulate end-of-life philosophies, addresses organ donation issues and disposition of remains.
Think of a HIPAA Authorization as your loved one’s answer to the voice at the medical emergency end of the phone saying, “Sorry, I’m not authorized to discuss her condition with you — if you have a problem with this, take it up with our lawyers.” The penalties for health workers (physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and others) who violate complex HIPAA privacy rules can include fines and jail time.
If you are a new or existing client and your adult child is on their way to college, please have them contact Matlin Law Group at 1-847-770-6600 to schedule an appointment to execute their health care power of attorney, HIPAA authorization, and Living Will.